NFL Draft: Sometimes you get what you need, not what you want

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The Rolling Stones had a legendary hit with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The song reminds us that “you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you find you get what you need.”

NFL teams have learned that many times when it comes to the twists and turns of the annual draft.

Having a successful draft calls for a combination of careful diagnosis, shrewd maneuvers and lots of luck. Sometimes the player that you really want is grabbed right before your turn comes up, so you settle for option B, who proves to be the better player over the long haul.

In 2006, the New Orleans Saints had targeted Wisconsin tight end Owen Daniels in the 4th round. Unfortunately, the Houston Texans grabbed him with the first pick (98th overall) of that round. The Saints took a deep breath, checked their board and settled on a little-known offensive guard out of small school Bloomsburg named Jahri Evans. He would go on to become a six-time Pro Bowler and Saints Hall of Famer.

In 1983, called the Year of the Quarterback, Penn State’s Todd Blackledge was taken by the Chiefs 7th overall. quarterback Tony Eason went 15th overall to the Patriots and quarterback Ken O’Brien was picked by the Jets with the 24th pick. Dan Marino stayed calm, finally hearing his name when the Dolphins picked him with the 27th choice.

With a keen eye to the future, the Dallas Cowboys had Don Meredith firmly entrenched at quarterback, but grabbed former Heisman winner Roger Staubach in the 10th round of the 1964 draft. The legend they called “Captain Comeback” led the Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl wins in his Hall of Fame career. Due to his Naval commitment, Staubach wasn’t eligible to suit up with the team until 1969. Another future Hall of Famer taken in this draft by Dallas in the 7th round was “Bullet” Bob Hayes, then known as the World’s Fastest Human running a 10.06 hundred meters.

Other notables in the ’64 draft include running back Joe Don Looney (Oklahoma) who went to Giants 12th overall, but spent only 28 days in New York before being dealt to Colts. Miami (FL) quarterback George Mira was taken in th second round by the 49ers. LSU tight end Billy Truax was grabbed by Cleveland in round two but the Browns also took a future Hall of Famer, running back LeRoy Kelly, in the 8th round.

A lightly-regarded linebacker out of Wichita State, Bill Parcells, was nabbed by the Lions in the 7th round but never played in a game.

In the 1996 NFL Draft, the Rams took troubled running back Lawrence Phillips with the No. 6 pick and the Saints drafted cornerback Alex Molden 11th overall (while local fans an analysts howled in disbelief that they had passed on runinng back Eddie George. The Broncos decided on linebacker John Mobley 15th overall. Mobley was solid with 634 career tackles over eight seasons but sliding all the way to the Baltimore Ravens at the No. 26 pick was linebacker Ray Lewis, who tallied 2,061 tackles and 41.5 sacks in a Hall of Fame career.

The 2000 NFL draft had five quarterbacks go before one of the most historic picks in NFL history took place.

Marshall quarterback Chad Pennington went to Jets in round one while two signal callers with “big upside” – Hofstra’s Giovanni Carmazzi to 49ers and Louisville’s Chris Redmond to Baltimore – were third round picks. In the 5th round, Tennessee’s Tee Martin (now USC’s offensive coordinator) was taken by Pittsburgh. The Saints took a quality NFL performer, West Virginia’s Marc Bulger, in the sixth round but not long after that pick came a franchise-defining selection for New England. The longshot who would go onto win five Super Bowls and three NFL MVPs was, of course, Michigan’s Tom Brady,.

In ’79, LSU’s Charles Alexander went to the Bengals with the 12th pick. Picked 3rd overall was Jack “Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson by the Bengals, considered one of NFL drafts biggest busts. The Saints took kicker Russell Erxleben with 11th pick, a bust of a different kind than most.

In the second round, University of Indiana in Pennsylvania linebacker Jim Haslett went to the Bills. It wasn’t until the final pick in the 3rd round that Notre Dame’s Joe Montana had his name called.

In the 2001 draft, the Packers took Florida State defensive Jamal Reynolds with the 10th overall pick. He played in 18 games with 18 total tackles. Not a good ratio. Philadelphia took UCLA wideout Fred Mitchell 25th overall, and he played four seasons with 90 grabs and five touchdowns. New Orleans selected Deuce McAllister with 23rd pick while another Saints legend lasted until the first choice in the second round when the Chargers snagged an undersized quarterback named Drew Brees.

This time of the year, many fans will ask why a team would consider drafting a player while your favorite team already has a good player in place. Consider this. The Saints decided to not stand pat, draft the “best player available”, which proved to be a wise decision when they grabbed McAllister with their top choice in 2001. Some questioned the team for such a move.

Initially, the move paid dividends when Williams, driven by new motivation, recorded his most productive season in a Saints uniform by rushing for 1,245 yards and adding 60 catches for 511 yards under Jim Haslett’s watch as head coach. Everyone knows how the story eneded. Ricky was traded for four draft picks including two first round choices to Miami. McAllister stuck around and ended up as the franchise’s all time leading rusher with 6,096 yards and 49 touchdowns.

More recently, Washington traded four draft picks including three No. 1’s for the right to pick Robert Griffin III second overall in the 2012 draft. There was another quarterback who the Redskins had their eye on in the fourth round, which seemed high to take one after the big move for Griffin. With the 102nd overall choice, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, a 4 year starter for the Spartans, became a Redskins backup.

Griffin was a dynamic rookie but injuries derailed his promising career. Cousins took over over December 13, 2013 as the Redskins starter and never looked back.

Now a journeyman who was out of football last season, Griffin signed this offseason to compete to be a backup to Joe Flacco with Baltimore. Cousins inked a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal with Minnesota.

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Rene Nadeau

Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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